Drive-In Couchfest: Country Blue (1973)

I bet I’ve put more thought into Country Blue than most folks, including some of the people who worked on the movie. As the next installment in the Drive-In 50-pack I was leery for two reasons, first, the previous entry was a pretty huge load of crap, and second, it’s got a 108 minute run time. Then once it started, I thought I was in for a real crap fest thanks to some awkward freeze framing, bad sound and inane cutting from action to the credits. But, in the end, I kind of liked the movie.

It must be said that this isn’t necessarily a good or original movie. Technically, it’s pretty bad and logically you want to scream at the TV, but some folks are really like that, so you can’t fault the story. The acting varies from person to person with the lead (and director thanks to talks with guys like Jeff Bridges and Robert Blake running long and threatening to squash the movie) varying from God awful to pretty good. The old man known as Jumpy is a ton of fun, as is the Ex Lax T-shirt he wears throughout the entire movie. And the lead’s girlfriend Ruthie, played by Rita Georg is stunning and not such a bad actress either.

The story revolves around Bobby Lee, a guy who can’t stay in one place too long. He just got out of jail for robbing a convenience store, but has his sights set on robbing a bank and moving to Mexico. Unfortunately for Bobby Lee, he’s kind of a dumbass. He and Ruthie rob the bank, her mask falls off and they refer to each other by their first names. THEN, after getting away, they rob a store and just stop to hang out near a lake only to get pissed when he reads a newspaper article that talks about how the bank president tricked him. So, of course, they go back and rob the bank again.

It’s a familiar story. Bobby Lee’s the kind of guy who just can’t let himself fit into society. He also doesn’t seem to try, not wanting to do the job Jumpy offers him. He wants a lot and doesn’t want to work to get it. There’s actually a pretty interesting metaphor that just kind of sits in some of the scenes without calling too much attention to itself: Jumpy’s monkey. The monkey’s in a cage in front of Jumpy’s garage always trying to get out. I was actually surprised that Bobby Lee didn’t break the little dude out before taking off. That would have been poetic.

I also want to compliment the cinematography. I know I trashed the technical aspects above, but there’s something about the filmwork here that makes it seem like a documentary, kind of like the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but without chainsaws. It helps that the southern setting (I think the movie takes place in Tennessee?) looks like a camera’s never been there before. Everything feels very authentic, so sometimes the not-so-great acting doesn’t really hurt the whole puzzle because it fits with overall picture. Like I said, I’m thinking about this movie a lot.

I do have to call bullshit on the ending though. Consider this SPOILER territory if you care. So, at the end of the movie, Bobby Lee’s adoptive mother helps break him and Ruthie out of prison. They’ve ditched the cops and are driving through the woods. All of a sudden he goes from being on a road and talking about his plan to get to Mexico to bushwacking through the woods with his car and flying off of a small cliff into a body of water. Huh? The editing is sloppy, so it seems to come out of nowhere. We see Bobby Lee pop up out of the water, thrash around a little, dive down twice and then swim back to shore where he presumably waits to see if the love of his life and his adoptive mother get out of the car on their own. What?! Seriously, I’d by swimming around there until I was about dead myself and I would imagine a bull-headed dumbass like Bobby Lee would do the same. I get that they probably didn’t have the budget or wherewithal to do an underwater shot, but the weird flashback montage they do show of the car as it was crashing didn’t help matters.

I can’t think of another movie that was such a rollercoaster of opinions for me. I started out thinking it was going to suck, then got kind of engrossed by the tragedy of the whole thing but then at the end I was left with a WTF taste in my mouth. I wouldn’t say that Country Blue is a must see by any means, but it’s been one of the more interesting movies in the Drive-In series.

I intended to go back and do some screen grabs of Jumpy’s Ex Lax shirt, the guy who looks like he could be Will Forte’s dad and the weird post-sex Ritz product placement, but alas, my computer won’t read the disc for whatever reason.

So Fresh & So Meat Episode 8

I’ve got to admit, I thought I wouldn’t be able to really get into this episode because I was rooting for Wes, but those feisty bastards still drew me in with a final exile cliffhanger that snuck up on me.

*I’ve lost a lot of interest with Wes out of the picture. Now it’s Kenny leading his bags of douche and Ev’s going to try and mewl in front of them in an attempt not to get sent home.

*With five teams left, alliances kind of don’t matter anymore. Laurel just said there’s only one team left they need to send home, but, duh, one of the teams you’re friendly with will still have to go home.

*What Ryan and Jenn don’t seem to realize is that they’re both pretty weak teams who have basically been kept around as fodder.

*Now Landon’s playing the game smart. He’s not going to be outwardly antagonistic towards Kenny, but he realizes that Kenny’s got two other teams to look out for, so he’s working with Ev.

*Watching Kenny and Landon try to talk strategy is pretty funny because neither of them are particularly sneaky.

*Apparently Kenny has agreed with Landon that whoever comes back after this exile won’t go into the next one before the final challenge.

*Haha, the challenge is pretty interesting. One person’s hanging in the middle like a pendulum, but the other person has to build a puzzle in the middle. So, the standing person has to keep pushing them/swinging them while also recreating the rock puzzle.

*Kenny and Laurel are up first, which is pretty hilarious to watch, especially when Kenny’s got about the whole thing finished when she busts right through it. Of course Kenny makes it out to be someone else’s fault. They do it in about 4 minutes.

*Pete and Jill go next and do it in a little over 3 minutes.

*Now it’s Jenn and Noor and they kill it in 2:22.

*Ryan and Theresa aren’t doing so well. No big shocker there. They quit when they realize their time sucks.

*Ev and Luke are up now. Wow, Ev just took Luke out pretty bad. Pretty hilarious. Luke seems to suck at lots, but I wonder if Ev’s just being mean. They DQ.

*Finally Landon and Carley are up and look like they do pretty well, but Jenn and Noor come out with the W.

*I think Noor will be coming back for more of these things. The rest seem kind of whatever.

*Wow, Jenn just said this was her first challenge win in four challenges. She SUCKS.

*Jenn and Noor are definitely picking Ev and Luke.

*Landon’s talking to Ryan about voting for Jill and Pete.

*They’re already in the room, how are they going to kill the remaining half hour?

*Luke and Ev are definitely in. Ryan bitched out and votes for Landon and Carley. So one strong team will be coming back which will potentially make it boil down to Kenny and Laurel vs. whoever comes back and one scrub team that will come in third place. Let’s be honest, Jenn and Ryan have been dead weight this whole time (it actually helped Noor win the challenge this time around actually) and Kenny will absolutely send one of them in ahead of himself before the final challenge.

*Ooh, TJ just said they better get ready right now. It’s night!

*Haha, Ev apologizing to Luke doesn’t come off as very apologetic.

*Carley seems to be losing it. She’s got no confidence and honestly, she doesn’t seem to be as good a competitor as Ev. If I were a betting dude, I’d bet on Ev and Luke, but I don’t WANT them to win.

*This is the exile that Landon and Carley already did, but it’s 50 more pounds. They don’t have to actually try the puzzles, but doing so will help cut the weight down.

*Ev and Luke finish the first puzzle first, but both teams are putting the weight in their buckets at the same time and L/C take off first.

*The whole thing being in night vision looks pretty creepy, like a horror movie.

*Ev and Luke are losing it. Landon and Carley are struggling with the weight too.

*Landon and Carley get to the second puzzle first and get it so they get to drop 30 pounds, but Carley’s walking around in a daze. She doesn’t look so good.

*Meanwhile, Ev and Luke are pretty far back, but Ev and Luke show up while he’s trying to coax her back into the game.

*This reminds me of them trying to drag Big Easy around, almost killing him.

*I think Landon is carrying all the weight for their team. That’s like 120 pounds. Carley has completely lost it. Medical people probably should be stepping in.

*Now the cameras are using actual lights instead of only night vision, it seems.

*Carley and Landon get to the next puzzle first. It’s one of those marble maze things. Carley’s still out of it, so Landon goes it alone. Ev and Luke get there while he’s still working on it and she’s sitting there.

*Ev decides not to even try, which causes some friction between her and Luke. She thinks if they stop, they’ll definitely loose to the other team.

*Landon finishes the puzzle. Carley seems drunk. He’s still carrying all the weight. Ev and Luke got to a sign that says you can remove all the weight and head to the finish and then they win.

*Ooh, apparently, solving the puzzle also takes time off your total, so Carley and Landon actually have 5 minutes to come back.

*GAH!!! To be continued?! SHENANIGANS!

*As much as I’d like to see Landon and Carley win, I wouldn’t put much faith in Carley’s ability to do much of anything in the next big challenge, another exile or the finals.

Quick Movie Review: Star Wars The Clone Wars (2008)

I’ve been on a pretty big Star Wars kick ever since I started writing the daily WTF Star Wars?! over on UGO.com’s The Goods section. I’ve actually been wanting to watch Empire and Jedi again recently, but didn’t thanks to being so busy pre and post vacation. Anyway, I did add the CGI Star Wars: The Clone Wars to my Netflix queue (though the missus and I are STILL waiting for the second disc of David Tennant’s last Doctor Who movie) and got around to watching it last night. I hadn’t really heard great things about the movie, mostly surrounding Anakin’s padawan Ahsoka being kind of annoying, but overall I thought it was a pretty good movie.

The action scenes are spectacular. It’s awesome seeing lightsaber duels done in a manner that truly reflects the skill and ability of the characters involved. I had never thought about it before, but Jedi and Sith Lords are basically superheroes, so they should move as such. The video games really nail this, while the original films don’t so much, but it’s fun to see it in an actual movie.

On the subject of Ahsoka, I didn’t find her annoying at all. Yeah, she’s a teenager and I guess that might get on some people’s nerves, but guess what? Luke Skywalker was annoying as hell! Don’t forget about that.

The story’s kind of simple, which isn’t really a bad thing as this is definitely aimed more at kids as a lead-in to the Clone Wars cartoon on Cartoon Network which I wish was on Netflix Instant. Jabba’s in it, so points for that.

My one big complain is the voices, specifically one: Obi-Wan’s. It’s been a while since I’ve watched Episodes II or III, but James Arnold Taylor seems to be doing a exaggerated impression of Ewan McGregor that just comes off as silly and over the top, which is a shame because all the other fill-in voices seem dead on. I actually had to look up to see whether Natalie Portman returned to voice Padme like Sam Jackson, Anthony Daniels and Chrisopher Lee had done for Mace Windu, C-3PO and Count Dooku respectively, but alas, it was another. So, all in all, Clone Wars didn’t completely quench my thirst for more Star Wars, but it did seem like a worthy entry in the series and, from what I hear, has lead to a pretty great series that I want to check out, so well done!

Ambitious Summer Reading List

Last summer I had this really ambitious plan to read a bunch of classic books I had sitting around. I’ve mentioned before that I’ve got several piles of books under my bed to be read at some point in the future, some of which might be considered classics. I got through exactly one book, Gulliver’s Travels, last summer and didn’t really dig it, but powered through. Then I started House of Seven Gables, but accidentally left it on an airplane and my plan fell through. Well, I’m at it again this summer, trying to read through these books in chronological order. It’s way too ambitious and I’m sure that if I do actually read them all, it will take me way more than a summer, but here’s the list:

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (1860-1861)
This is my first Dickens ever.

Crime And Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky (1866)
I’ve read this one in college and high school, but it’s easily one of my favorites.

The War Of The Worlds by H.G. Wells (1898)
I bought this in grade school after falling in love with the radio show, but it was way over my head and I quit. This will be the first time I’ve given it a real shot since then.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925)
I think I might have read this once before during my internship, but I really can’t remember. Reading FSG’s short stories inspired me to give this another whirl.

Ulysses by James Joyce (1922)
Clearly I need to switch this one with Gatsby in the order. Anyway, I read portions of Ulysses in one of my college classes, but not the whole thing. Can’t wait to slog through this bad boy. Hopefully I can dig up my notes from that class.

I, Robot by Isaac Asimov (1950)
Snobs might not consider this one a classic, but who cares? I’ve never read any Asimov, so this will be a new experience.

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (1961)
Another one I haven’t read before, my friend Heather told me this is one of her favorites. I actually have no idea where my copy came from.

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (1955)
Hmm, apparently I needed to do more research before putting the books in the correct order. Ah well, I’ve liked most of the Russian literature I’ve read and will hopefully like this one too.

The Rum Diary by Hunter S. Thompson (1960s/published 1998)
I’ve never read any HST, so when I saw this on the free table at my old job, I picked it up. Should be interesting.

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee (1960)
I don’t think you can get through school without reading To Kill A Mockingbird, so, yes, I’ve read this one before, but it’s been a while and everyone loves it, so I’m giving it another whirl.

I kicked things off tonight with Great Expectations and my first impression is surprise at how easy I can understand what’s going on so far. I thought Dickens would be hard to muddle through, but I guess all that reading in college has paid off as I’m having very little trouble. Here’s hoping this nearly-500 page beast doesn’t take me TOO long to get through.

Quick Movie Review: Derailed (2005)

Derailed is one of the few movies I got from Netflix, but sent back without watching. I got it because, as many of you know, I’m a big Clive Owen fan and, well, that’s all I really knew about it aside from the fact that Jennifer Aniston is in it. Once I got it, though, I read the synopsis and found that it was about Owen’s character getting revenge after his mistress, Aniston, gets raped in a hotel room. Not wanting to watch something like that, I passed. But, it was on Bravo yesterday and I figured I’d give it a whirl. I missed the beginning, but here’s the basics. Owen’s married, misses his regular train and meets Aniston and they start an affair. Soon enough, a criminal (Vincent Cassel) breaks into their hotel room, attacks Owen and Aniston and leaves. Owen wants to call the cops, but Aniston says not to. Soon enough he’s being blackmailed by the attacker who’s showing up at his house and demanding all kinds of money. Things get worse from there as you might imagine.

I’m going to jump into SPOILER territory here, because I found the twist to be very interesting. It turns out that Aniston is actually in on the con with Cassell and Xzibit. I definitely didn’t see that one coming. After that, Owen’s life falls apart as his wife finds out and his job finds out he was stealing from them to pay the blackmailer. He then sets up a sting of his own and attacks Cassell, Aniston and Xzibit. There’s yet another twist at the end that seems sloppy at first, but then works out, but didn’t really surprise.

All in all, it was an alright movie, but lacked the action I want from a Clive Owen movie. I’m also pretty sick of movies in which I’m yelling at the main character for not just going to the cops and getting things figured out at a logical time. Hey, these things always blow up in your face, have you never seen one of these movies? Your wife’s gonna find out and blackmailers almost never stop, so just tell the truth. Ah well, it kept me busy while working yesterday, but I’d much rather watch him in something like Sin City.

Covering Vinyl: The Who It’s Hard

I’ve decided to take on a new challenge for the blog. I’m taking a page out of Covered‘s book and will be taking a record cover and doing my best to draw it in my “style.” I started flipping through my small record collection and quickly settled on The Who’s It’s Hard because, well, it’s got a pretty basic design and has an arcade game in it–Atari’s Space Quest, a game I’ve never heard of and clearly isn’t being played in the actual picture. Here’s the original.And here’s my rendition, my apologies to, well, every member of the Who. And finally, the two Whos side-by-side. I still don’t consider myself much of an artist, but it’s interesting looking at the finished product and seeing what I didn’t do quite so well and how little things change the composition. Take Pete Townsend for instance (the guy on the left). By accidentally changing a few aspects of his jacket, it looks like he’s leaning in more towards the viewer in my version. I’m still having a lot of trouble with hands and faces (especially noses), but I have a great time drawing and will hopefully be able to keep up with doing one a week. If anyone else is interested in joining me in Covering Vinyl, drop me a line and we can trade links.